Hijab & Passive Terrorism?

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By Navida Sayed

In recent days there has been a lot of talk about a suggestion published in a document about counter terrorism that the hijab contributes to passive terrorism. The document is a US Air Force White Paper entitled “Countering Violent Extremism, Scientific Methods and Strategies” with contributions by several academics; it was originally published in 2011 and reissued in 2015.

One of the authors is Dr. Tawfik Hamid, formerly a member of a radical Islamic organization who now asserts that he had an awakening of his human conscience. At that time recognizing the threat of radical Islam he started to teach modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts.

Sadly Hamid has lost sight of true Islam on his way back from extremism to moderation. His arguments, presented in his article for the White Paper, “A Strategic Plan to Defeat Radical Islam” are laughable and unwarranted. Hamid affirms,

“In turn, the proliferation of militant Salafism and the hijab contribute to the idea of passive terrorism… which occurs when moderate segments of the population decline to speak against or actively resist terrorism.” 

Hamid’s argument is vague. When, asked how he can separate an individual, peaceful woman who chooses to wear the Hijab from his assertion that the head covering contributes to passive terrorism, he says, 

“Cigarette smoking contributes to the development of lung cancer, but not every single cigarette smoker will develop lung cancer. The contribution to something in medicine does not mean it’s the only factor.  

Surely it is unjustifiable for leading authorities, such as the US Air Force, to give credence to such a vague theory about the Hijab.

Hamid’s unfounded misrepresentation of the Hijab in his report will only add fuel to an already burning fire and further incite more hate towards Muslim women around the world.  There is no logic in Hamid’s flawed theory that the Hijab can contribute to passive terrorism and his suggestion is deeply disturbing for millions of Muslim women. The Hijab is an outer covering for women but inside they have real beating hearts just like all other humans, of all faiths and ethnicities. 

In the days following 9/11, 7/7 and the Paris attacks, as Muslims, we felt deeply shell-shocked, mortified and numb. In fact we felt double the pain, by the loss of innocent lives and the brutal act of terrorism wrongfully carried out in the name of Islam. 

Unfortunately barbarous and inhumane acts of terrorism have deeply tarnished the image of Islam and Muslim women have become prime targets of hatred because of the visibility of their Hijab. It now appears as if everyone is jumping onto the bandwagon to point the finger at Muslim women in Hijab, to depict them either as innocent suppressed women or as terrorists.  

Little does the world realise  that the Hijab is not to blame for radicalization in any shape or form whatsoever!

The real focus of the world should be in combating extremism and not repeatedly targeting Muslim women and their dress code. 

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2 thoughts on “Hijab & Passive Terrorism?

  1. When I chose to wear hijab, I was consciously sending a loud and public message about my lifestyle choice. Yes, it is a religious symbol, but the religion is one of love and my lifestyle choice is to try my best to serve humanity for the sake of God. It is true, it does immediately proclaim my religion and may not allow me to ‘fit in’ everywhere I go; but it is a vital part of the very covenant I made with God which inspires me to interact with all people as positively as I can. The proclamation of my hijab is not: “I am different from you. I do not want to interact with you as I disapprove of you and all that you stand for”; in fact it is: “I am different but I would like to be open with you in how we may comfortably co-operate without any mixed messages.”
    I do not feel that we have to look the same, or commit to the same lifestyles in order to co-exist harmoniously and to co-operate with each other. We just have to share a common commitment to basic human values. How we find our inspiration to do so is up to us.

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